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Sponsor Highlights from the 2010 Mexican National Team US Tour

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I produced this video for the 2010 Federacion Mexicana de Futbol Sponsor Summit.  It highlights the ways in which our sponsors leveraged the FMF’s marks, used their on-site activation rights and access to player endorsements throughout the Mexican National Team’s (MNT) 2010 US Tour. 

A couple of highlights from the video:

  •  Andres Guardado answers questions from fans on Facebook as part of Degree Men’s  “Siempre Enfrenta El Reto” campaign (shout out to the GroupM team)
  • Israel Castro is interviewed as part of AT&T’s “Mision Sudafrica” online video series (shout out to The Marketing Arm and the AT&T team)
  • “The Matador” Luis Hernandez participates in a community build project for The Home Depot (props to the Octagon team in Atlanta)
  • The “Futbol Fiesta” section… the name says enough

Our partners did a great job of using the Mexican National Team to drive their business interest in 2010.  In 2011, it will be all about extending the length of conversation with the consumer.  The CONCACAF Gold Cup and compelling matchups for the MNT’s 2011 US Tour (???) will ensure there is sufficient interest in the team in a non World Cup year. 

To expand their sponsorship beyond several one-off events, sponsors should look do the following:

  • establish a strong presence on Univision during its MNT broadcasts and shoulder programming 
  • create compelling original content to be shared on social networks focusing on the MNT
  • work with local distributors to establish a strong presence at retail in the weeks and months leading up to the matches (player appearances and sweepstakes)

I hope you enjoy the video, and would love to hear your feedback.

Special thanks Ixzchel Salgado whose keen eye was extremely valuable in the making of this video, and Carlos Rodriguez, the magician who edited this video.

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A Stateside Action Plan for Liverpool

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The words "Liverpool Football Club" are in the center of a pennant, with flames either side. The words "You'll Never Walk Alone" adorn the top of the emblem in a green design, "EST 1892" is at the bottom.

New England Sports Ventures can generate substantial revenue from Liverpool in the United States by: 

1) hosting an annual or biennial American tour 

2) syndicating Liverpool matches to regional sports networks (RSN)

The American public has demonstrated a substantial interest in international soccer matches.  This past summer alone, Manchester United averaged 55,790 for three matches  in the US, Real Madrid averaged 68,236 in two matches and the Barclay’s New York Challenge averaged 19,042 over three match dates; total attendance for these 8 matches, 360,968.  To put this number into perspective, the Oakland Raiders drew 354,276 for their eight home games in 2009.

It could be argued that these attendance numbers were the manifestation of interest from this year’s World Cup, and are not sustainable in long-term; however, the CAA run World Football Challenge of 2009 drew 336,813 fans over six matches, and two FC Barcelona matches drew 159,967.  The combined attendance of 496,780 for these two tours was more than six NFL clubs in 2009.  The substantial gate receipts generated from these international friendlies has been adversely affected by fees imposed by the United States Soccer Federation. 

Currently, the USSF taxes match promoters 5.25-15% for matches held on US soil featuring international teams.  If we assume that a match selling 60,000 tickets generates somewhere in the neighborhood of $2.7 million in gross ticket sales (based on an average ticket price of $45), the USSF’s tax can serve as a significant deterrent to those considering the feasibility of promoting international matches.  The probable repeal of USSF’s sanctioning fee will increase the viability of these tournaments.  

Moreover, MLB stadiums could be the preferred venues for a Liverpool tour. Matches delivered to municipally owned stadiums  could serve to enhance the political leverage of New England Sports Ventures with its fellow owners.   Furthermore, market selection could be a driving force to forge partnerships with team owned RSNs.

In last week’s SportsBusiness Journal, Ted Leonsis made the argument that more and more clubs will be looking to launch their own RSN.  He pointed out that in the coming years broadband and mobile distribution rights will become increasingly important.  Thus, the question arises, how will these networks fill the vast amount of programming requirements for a multiple platform presence?  The YES Network may have given an indication where RSNs will look to acquire programming.

The YES Network recently agreed to terms with Arsenal to broadcast their EPL, FA Cup and UEFA Cup matches in HD.  John Filippelli, President, production and programming for the YES Network had this to say about the agreement:

“This Arsenal package provides additional depth to our already diverse, Emmy Award-winning lineup. It not only makes our programming more attractive to those living in our traditional regional viewing area, but it also enhances the value of our YES national feed available throughout the country.  Those tuning in to our YES national feed will benefit from these Arsenal programs airing in HD throughout our schedule, including when our Yankees and Nets game telecasts are blacked out.”

New England Sports Ventures would first utilize Liverpool rights to increase its subscription fees with New England based MSO’s, and then build the business case for Liverpool being a valuable asset for RSNs outside of the Northeast.

New England Sports Ventures has demonstrated innovation and efficiency in every endeavor it has embarked upon; I eagerly await their stateside plans for Liverpool.

Written by Peter Amador

October 20, 2010 at 9:43 PM

Posted in EPL, TV Rights

Tagged with , , , ,

A Vision for Univision

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Hispanic male consumers age 18-49 –  A targeted demographic for marketers, and an emerging consumer base for properties.  The interests of both intersect with Univision.

Univision has positioned itself as the preeminent network for Spanish language sports.  The large audiences which the network attracted for its World Cup broadcasts thrust the network into the forefront of sports media stories throughout the summer; however, its acquisition of the United States broadcast rights to  Mexican National Team matches leading up to the 2014 World Cup may have been the network’s most significant achievement of 2010. 

The Mexico vs. Ecuador match on September 4th attracted 2.7 million viewers, helping the network become the most viewed channel amongst 18-49 year-olds for the week.  This was the first time a Spanish language network had beat out its English counterparts in this significant demographic.  The match broadcast may have not been the primary reason for the network winning the ratings battle; however, the ratings bump which the network received on a Saturday night was of critical importance.    Furthermore, Univision’s exclusive rights to MNT matches enables the channel to drive its business interests with multi-platform content.

Prior to the Ecuador match, Univision announced a partnership with AT&T to deliver MNT matches to AT&T Mobile TV subscribers.  This deal was made possible due to AT&T’s existing relationship with the MNT through Soccer United Marketing, and Univision’s broadcast agreement with the MNT, highlighting the complexity of the digital sports landscape.  Additionally, the AT&T deal is a manifestation of the adept leadership at the network. 

Univision was able to secure the Mobile TV rights in addition to its broadcast rights.  Mobile TV rights have been the providence of governing bodies in the United States.   The network’s ability to procure these rights from the FMF was not only a coup for the network’s bottom line, but I believe its reputation amongst the three major sports leagues in the United States.   Univision’s partnership with the NFL to launch NFL.com/espanol demonstrates the increasing importance the network will have on the future domestic growth of the NFL, NBA and MLB. 

Whether you are considered to be a general market property (NFL) or a Hispanic focused property (MNT/MLS), Univision’s hegemony of the Spanish-speaking audience in the United States is a necessity.    The networks youthful audience (55.2% 18-49 compared to CBS’ 31.5%) is in concert with the Hispanic population’s demographic (49.5% between 18-49 compared to the non-Hispanics 44.8%), providing properties a forum to generate sustainable domestic growth. 

We continue to wait for Versus to evolve into a legitimate challenger to ESPN’s crown – which may very well happen if Congress ever approves the Comcast / NBC Universal merger – and continue to neglect an over-the-air network that delivers a premium audience to advertisers.  Don’t keep the blinders on too long, because there’s a horse gaining ground down the stretch.

Boost your image with Chivas de Guadalajara

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10 days, 2 trips to PPL Park.  My first trip was with Soccer United Marketing (SUM) for the Union’s match against Chivas de Guadalajara (9/1), and the second was with Fox Soccer Channel for the Union’s match against the Chicago Fire (9/11).  While I was fulfilling different roles – marketing operations and broadcast production – my trips to Philadelphia enabled me to asses SUM’s partners activation practices from multiple vantage points.  While I was impressed with many of our partners on-site presence,   I was most impressed with Boost Mobile’s activation of its Chivas sponsorship (disclaimer: I work for SUM’s partnership marketing department but not on the Boost account).

Boost’s launched its sponsorship of the 2010 Chivas Tour with an in-store autograph session with Chivas legend Missael Espinoza.  The event was promoted on a Spanish language radio station in Philadelphia, and the radio station was on-site for a remote broadcast.  Furthermore, Boost built a cause marketing initiative into Missael’s appearance. The brand donated a $1,000 dollars to a local organization which enhances the educational opportunities of children from low-income families.  The in-store event was a modest success; however, the brand was able to maximize its on-site activation at PPL Park.

Boost had three distinct activation areas at SUM’s pre-game event zone “Futbol Fiesta”.  The first was a lounge area where fans were able to escape the interminable Philadelphia heat and relax on sofas provided by the brand.  The second was a miniature soccer field where attendees were encouraged to participate in a juggling contest, and the third was a skills area were fans were challenged to demonstrate their accuracy on penalty kicks.  In the middle of the three areas, Missael was on-hand to sign autographs for the more than 5,000 visitors to Futbol Fiesta.  The success of Boost’s on-site activation was attributable to the brand’s ability to speak to its consumer, and the Chivas consumer at the same time.

The brand fit between the Chivas property and Boost enables the partnership to ‘boost’ the profile of both the property and brand.  Boost is known for its ability to speak young minorities, first with the comical “Where you at” advertising campaign, and then with its partnerships with hip-hop artists Game, Ludacris, Kanye West, Fat Joe and Young Jeezy.  The Chivas fan base is a predominantly young-male, Mexican immigrants.  An obvious target of Boost Mobile, which defines itself as the phone company which does not require its customers to sign contracts.

Boost’s partnership with SUM and the Chivas property enables the brand to speak to an audience familiar with its message, and engineer substantial brand equity with these potential consumers.  Translating the brand equity into receipts at the register will be contingent on more variables than its Chivas sponsorship, but the sponsorship allows Boost to place itself within a community which is of significant interest to the company.  We will have to wait and see the results.

Written by Peter Amador

September 14, 2010 at 7:36 PM

A Marketing Solution Offered by Tottenham

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Did the EPL club Tottenham Hotspur revolutionize European soccer sponsorship?  I will argue in favor of this proposition.  Furthermore, I will contend that the Spurs decision to separate its kit sponsorship into league and cup components  – while a strategically sound business decision on their part – demonstrates the ability of clubs to create customized solutions for current and future business partners.

When Tottenham signed Investec to a two-year, £5 million jersey sponsorship agreement for cup competitions, the club increased its jersey sponsorship by 25%.  An achievement which validated the team’s decision to pursue multiple jersey sponsors, but did not help the club surpass Chelsea in terms of jersey sponsorship revenue.  However, I believe we can all agree that in terms of prestige, the North London club is a notch below their counterparts in the West.  Therefore, the 10% gap in jersey sponsorship is more of an affront to Chelsea than the Spurs.  Moreover, the Spurs decision to pursue two-year contracts should not be discounted.  I believe it is indicative of the club’s long-term business interests.

The Spurs have held informal talks with London’s, Olympic Park Legacy Company about making a bid for Stratford Stadium following the 2012 Olympics. The club’s marketability would increase exponentially with a move to Stratford Stadium.  Upon moving to Stratford Stadium, the team could continue having multiple jersey sponsors, tie their stadium naming rights to a jersey sponsorship (unlikely because of the cautionary tale which is Arsenal’s deal with Emirates Airlines), or have a primary jersey sponsor and a separate stadium naming rights partner.  The course of action which the Spurs choose to embark upon will determine if the club can develop a brand with assets which are beneficial to its partners.

A sponsorship’s effectiveness is measured in a brand’s ability utilize a property’s image and trademarks to drive its business objectives.  Thus, we must examine the business objective of Autonomy (league play) and Investec (cup play).

Autonomy, with a market cap of $6 billion, has the resources to spend to spend an extra £2.5 million to procure the rights for cup play.  Their decision to only secure the rights for league play must be driven by a company focus.

Autonomy is a b2b software infrastructure company.  Consequently, hospitality packages are an important component of any sponsorship which they enter, and the Spurs’ North London location appealed to their interest.  Moreover, EPL matches which are broadcasted in Asia during primetime, are more important to their business interests than Champions League matches; which reach a greater percentage of European countries – where the company’s strength is – but are broadcasted in the middle of the night in Asia.  Conversely, the Champions League format coincides with the business interest of the Spurs’ cup partner.

Investec is an international specialist bank and asset manager based in South Africa, where the Spurs brand is strong due to a 2003 tour and win in a South African international tournament.  Investec caters to a select client base, and focuses its interest on countries of Anglo-Saxon origin.  Having a select clientele, hospitality was a major consideration in the firm’s sponsorship evaluation.  Furthermore, an emphasis on cup play enables the company to expand its footprint in European markets.

The Spurs decision to have multiple jersey sponsors is indicative of a growing trend amongst professional sports franchises to offer specialized marketing solutions to their partners.  It is incumbent upon sports properties to demonstrate that they understand the business objectives of their partners.  The properties that place their partners objectives at the forefront of a sponsorship will have the most success in this decade.

Written by Peter Amador

August 26, 2010 at 8:28 PM

Major League Soccer Fan Demographics

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It’s almost over! My paper “MLS Sponsorship: Activating to Increase Brand Equity” is close to being complete, and I will be a graduate of the University of San Francisco’s, Sport Management Graduate Program, on Wednesday.

I wanted to share with you the results section of my paper.  It is a little dry, but if you are interested in Major League Soccer, or interested in possible sponsorship opportunities, it may be of benefit to you.  Incase you have not read my post, “Can VW sell more cars because of its MLS Sponsorship?” survey participants were recruited from the Facebook pages of five MLS teams.

If you have any questions about my results, please do not hesitate to ask.  I welcome any inquiries about my work.

In all, 231 questionnaires were collected.  Due to incomplete responses, 29 of the questionnaires had to be discarded.  The margin of error for survey results is 7%.

Los Angeles Galaxy fans accounted for 27.2% of survey respondents.  The remaining fan bases and their corresponding percentages were: Real Salt Lake (20.8%), Houston Dynamo (17.3%), New York Red Bulls (14.9%), Seattle Sounders FC (13.9%), and other (5.9%). 63.4% of Survey respondents ranked their MLS team as their favorite professional sports franchise, and another 17.8% ranked it as their second favorite.

An overwhelmingly majority (77.7%) of survey respondents were male.  Notable, when compared to Facebook statistics that show 56% of Facebook users are female (Inside Facebook, 2010).  Caucasian (65.0%) was the ethnicity most cited by respondents.  Over three-quarters (77.7%) of survey respondents were 37 years of age or younger, only 63% of Facebook users are 35 years of age or younger.  The age brackets and their corresponding percentages are shown in the graph below.

Survey participants were highly educated, 48.3% reported having a Bachelor’s Degree or higher.  Education levels and their corresponding percentages were: high school (33.8%), Bachelor’s Degree (31.8%), graduate degree (16.5%), trade school (4.0%), and Associate’s Degree (13.9%).

A majority of survey respondents (60.9%) reported having attended ten or more matches in their lifetime, an additional 15.8% have attended between 4-9 matches. Moreover, 82.7% of survey respondents attended a MLS match in 2009, with 56.9% of survey respondents attending five or more matches.  Their past experiences are indicative of future consumption habits, 81.2% responded that they will “definitely attend a MLS match in 2010”.  Additionally, respondents were active followers of their MLS team on the Internet; 86.6% of respondents reported visiting their MLS team’s Web site within a week of taking the survey, with 69.4% of survey respondents visiting the team’s Web site within 24 hours of taking the survey.  More survey respondents reported watching a Spanish language television channel – for more than ten minutes – in the past month (48.5%), than those that have never watched a Spanish language television channel (23.3%).

Hispanic was the second most identified ethnicity by survey respondents at 24.8%.  The majority of Hispanic respondents (76%) were first-generation Americans, and the remaining 24% were immigrants.  Respondents identifying their ancestry with Spain did not classify themselves as Hispanic, as did a few respondents of Caribbean, Central American, or Spanish-speaking South American decent. When all respondents from these regions were included in the Hispanic demographic, they accounted for 31.1% of survey respondents. The geographic identity of these respondents were concentrated in three regions: Central America (31.7%) Mexico (30.2%), and Spanish-speaking South America (23.8%).

Volkswagen had the highest fan-recognition level amongst MLS Official Sponsors, and was the only sponsor to be recognized by more than 50% of survey respondents.  Budweiser was the only other sponsor to have a fan-recognition level which exceeded the uncertainty response.  The chart below shows the official sponsor and its recognition rate from the survey.

Fan Recognition Rate for MLS Official Sponsors
Volkswagen 55.50%
Budweiser 47.50%
Gatorade 36.60%
AT&T 33.70%
American Airlines 26.20%
Visa 25.20%
Degree Deodorant 21.80%

Survey respondents did not believe a MLS sponsorship would affect their consumption habits, 55.4% of survey respondents stated they are not more likely to regularly consume a product/service because it is a MLS sponsor – 43.1% stated they were more likely – and 58.9% stated that they are not more likely to refer a product/service to a family member or friend because it is a MLS sponsor (40.1% are more likely).

Written by Peter Amador

May 16, 2010 at 10:06 PM

Hispanic Millennials: The Future of MLS

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Major League Soccer’s future success is contingent upon its ability to market its game to first and second generation Hispanic-Americans. 

The United States Census Bureau estimates there are 48 million Hispanics living in the United States, a number which is expected to increase to 73 million by 2030.  I contend that this figure will be driven by an increase in American born Hispanics, opposed to immigration.  Arizona may be considered a rogue state today, but we are a nation which is increasingly moving right of center. However politically untenable the situation may become, I believe the rate of illegal immigration will decrease in the coming decades.  Thus, any increase in the Hispanic population of the United States will be attributable to an increase in birth rates; a development which my statistics suggest will serve MLS well.      

I recently recruited 202 survey participants from the Facebook fan pages of five MLS teams, and Hispanics accounted for 25% of survey participants. I acknowledge the economic bias of my recruitment method; however, I contend the disparity between immigrants and first-generation survey participants is indeed indicative of a trend amongst MLS fans.  

First-generation Americans accounted for 76% of Hispanic respondents, with immigrants accounting for the remaining 24%.  The lack of second-generation Hispanic-Americans, indicates first-generation Hispanic-Americans of the Baby Boomer generation assimilated into American culture through football, basketball and baseball, and did not communicate a passion for soccer to their children.  First-generation Hispanic-Americans from Generation X did not face the discrimination of their predecessors, and gravitated to soccer without the fear of being ostracized.  This generation will produce a second-generation of Hispanic-Americans whom share a passion for soccer with their fathers.  However, to maximize the potential of the Hispanic demographic, MLS must attract more Mexican-Americans to its games.       

Mexican-Americans account for 68% of Hispanics in the United States, but only 30% of Hispanic survey respondents.  It has been theorized that Mexican-Americans have been slow to adopt MLS because of the availability of Mexican First Division matches on Spanish language television in the United States.  Mexican-Americans can continue to follow teams in their native country, unlike their Central and South American counterparts.  Furthermore, the escalating rivalry amongst the national teams of Mexico and the United States, inhibits many Mexican immigrants from accepting any form of American soccer.  Mexican immigrants’ indignation towards American soccer will not transcend generations.

MLS provides first-generation Hispanic-Americans the opportunity to define their American identity, without abandoning their cultural attachment to the sport of soccer.  First-generation Hispanic-Americans from Generation X have proven that they will embrace MLS.  Therefore, it stands to reason that first-generation Hispanic-Americans of the Millennial generation will continue to gravitate to the league.  Their support, in conjunction with their second-generation counterparts, provides a reassuring confidence to MLS; the only professional sports league which is expanding domestically.

Written by Peter Amador

May 12, 2010 at 9:27 AM

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